A Little Fall Color 2013

Here in north-central Texas, we don’t get a wide variety of fall colors, and there are very few large, old trees to amaze us with what little color they put on display. Behind the parking lot at work, these quiet woods flank defunct railroad tracks. Did I just quote a George Clinton lyric?

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A Little Fall Color 2013

Coffee and the Bee

I had fixed the boy’s breakfast and was running late for work. Only seconds after perfectly grinding my coffee beans I dropped the grinder. It bounced off the counter and landed on the floor, spilling all four tablespoons (pre-ground measurement). We have a cocker spaniel, and caffeine can kill dogs, but I didn’t have time to stop and clean up the mess, so I called out for assistance (it was about the time my wife usually gets up on weekdays, anyway — 6:40 or 6:45).

She grabbed our cheap vacuum cleaner and crammed herself into the kitchen with the rest of us.

While scooping my second batch of grounds into the coffeemaker, I thought I noticed something hovering around my legs. “Do you see something flying around?” I said.

Struggling with the Hoover, Shannon looked up at me like I was insane, her judgment obviously clouded by her grogginess. I slapped the coffee maker’s lid shut and punched Brew Now, then turned to face the kitchen island.

When I lifted my cereal bowl, something flew up into my face and I screamed like Lee Lee Sobieski (you know, girly, but with a low voice?). Flying, stinging insects are very unpredictable, and they can pierce your eyeball.

The bee fled to the fluorescent fixture overhead, where it camped out while Benjamin kept a safe distance in the living room. “It’s okay, son, I just freaked out a little bit because I didn’t know it was there and it got in my face,” I said.

It was not my finest Monday morning.

Are We in the Jerk Store?

The only customer in the shop, I stood waiting for the nice lady behind the counter to fill my meager order: one white creme-filled donut and two glazed cinnamon twists.

Behind me, the donut shop’s front door swung open with a resounding “ding” and in stepped a graying man, sharply dressed, with two small children flanking him.  Also wearing their Sunday best, they rushed passed him, straight for the counter.  Their dress shoes skidded across the slick vinyl floor.

“Now, remember, one dollar each,” he called after them.

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Woman, Wife, Mom

In the nearly 11 years we were married before you became a mother, I simply knew you as Shannon, and Mother’s Day was a time to buy my mom a card and maybe call her.

When you and I met, we hit it off quickly, and got married sooner than many thought was advisable — including my aforementioned mother.

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Roller skatingWhile we didn’t agree with that assessment, we knew we didn’t need to throw a child into the mix immediately. We were never quite where we wanted to be financially, but who ever is? Through the next decade we brought up our sweet dog Lexie from a four-week old pup. Although we learned a few things about taking turns with pet care, and loved her very much, the challenges of taking care of her didn’t even hint at what was to come. We knew that, and so we waited.

Regardless of the various reasons, they all added up to our waiting more than a decade to have a child. We might not have learned much about child rearing, but we learned a lot about one another. Many are thrust into parenthood before they have had a chance to get their bearings as a couple, let alone keep another human being alive with any sense of grace or confidence.

Still not sure we’ve mastered that last part, but who ever does?

Chaperoning a school field tripWhen I think back now I have a hard time recalling what we did before we were parents. Watched a lot more TV, for the most part. Those VHS tapes labeled for each day of the week were ample evidence of that.

Back then, you were my wife. Now, instead of becoming your mom or my mom, you’re the kind of mom our home needs. I am proud for anyone to meet you and our son.

Sure, I’ve always done my share of the parenting, but you are the one who gets him off to school in the morning, and manages him during homework time. You spend the most time making sure he becomes an independent, responsible man. While doing all that you manage our home.

Creating at the Perot MuseumWhen we met I knew you were beautiful, funny, smart, and caring. Soon I knew we had a lot in common, and that I loved you, and you were a great woman. When I married you, you became a great wife. Now you are a great mom, and that has revealed depth in your strength and character that I might never have known otherwise.

How lucky was I that the woman I chose (and who chose me!) happened to thrive on being a caring mother to our son?

Happy Mother’s Day!

Remembering AJ

In August of 2012 I found myself in a CVS Pharmacy restroom in Conway, Arkansas, changing from casual clothes into a black suit. I was fortunate that it was a clean men’s room.

A few days before that, through the modern device of online social media I found out that a college friend had passed away. He was nearly 10 years my senior, but still not what I generally consider “old enough” to die.

IchthusA trucker by trade, AJ was licensed to drive large groups. Many times we all crammed ourselves into a 13-passenger van and AJ safely guided the vehicle to our destination — sometimes more than 1000 miles roundtrip. I don’t know whether he knew it, but he missed out on some of the camaraderie by being up there behind the wheel.

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